Minister, ‘poor’ wife in alleged land scandal

By Chris Kamalendran

The wife of a non-cabinet minister allegedly posed off as a member of a low income group family and obtained a 15-perch state land worth millions in Battaramulla on the recommendation of her husband, the Sunday Times learns.

The issue has been brought to the notice of the Commission to Investigate Allegation of Bribery or Corruption along with the documentary evidence which includes the letter sent by the minister’s wife and the recommendation given by the Urban Development Authority (UDA).

The appeal for the land had been made by the wife of non cabinet Urban Development minister Rohana Dissanayaka who represents the Matale district. However, the letter was sent under his wife’s maiden name, L.R.M.Abeysinghe, and the address of her mother.

“I am a mother of two, residing near the Lanka Rice Mill in Hiripitiyagama, Galnewa. My husband and I live under difficult financial conditions. My husband lives close to Colombo and since he does not have a permanent house we are forced to pay rent. As we are a low income group family and are in a helpless situation please provide 15 perches of land belonging to the UDA in the Colombo area on long term lease,” the letter said.

The UDA acting upon the request had given approval for the allocation of the land at Pannipitiya Road in Battaramulla and wrote to the Secretary of the Urban Development Ministry asking him to obtain cabinet approval. The UDA had sent the Board paper and Board decision, the request of Ms. Abeysinghe and the draft cabinet Memorandum.

D.B. Elkaduwa who made the complainant to the Bribery Commission told the Sunday Times that according to information available with him the request for the land had been made by Ms Abeysinghe who is an English teacher in a school in Matale and her husband obtains Rs. 100,000 monthly rent from Parliament. He claimed that the minister owned a three-storey house in Matale and has leased out seven vehicles to Lanka Porcelain.

The Sunday Times made more than 15 attempts to contact the Mr Dissanayaka or his wife and we were told by his office that the minister would respond to the calls, but until last evening there was no response.

Urban Development Minister Dinesh Gunawardena told the Sunday Times he had not received any complaint about such a matter, but would look into it if a complaint was lodged.

UDA Director General Prasanna Silva said though the UDA Board granted approval they were not aware about the background of the applicant.

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